Tina, here.

Do you scream at your screen every time you see a size 2, 6-foot-tall model wearing yet another dress or pair of jeans you wish you could pull off? Or sky high heels that your feet just won't let you buy? You've gotta meet my friend Francie. She's gorgeous, smart, and a member of the best-dressed society, and... she is hard to fit. She used to shed tears in her closet with the familiar complaint, "Nothing fits!" Well, she's learned a lot about how to dress well and wear the clothes she wants to, the right way. My friends, meet Francie. You'll get to know her quite well here on the blog, as one of our new Contributors.

When Nothing Fits

Welcome Francie, a dear friend, who you can trust to show you what to do when you feel like nothing fits. She has all kinds of tricks up her sleeve, plus a modern classic style you will love.

Hello, lovelies!

It’s nice to “meet” y’all. I’m a GRITS (girl raised in the South) who grew up in Auburn and Birmingham, Alabama then moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I took a detour to North Carolina for a few years, where I got a doctorate in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and have been back in Nashville since 2005. I love living in this little big town where I have all a big city has to offer yet constantly go places where I see people I know.

In my professional life, I’m a nurse practitioner and nurse-midwife. I provided health care in a variety of clinical settings before complications of a hand surgery ended my baby catching days. I had to do a bit of reinventing myself once I left clinical practice behind but have since taught nursing and midwifery, conducted health care research, and become an author and editor. Currently, I am the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. I’m also the co-editor of a gynecology textbook, the third edition of which is coming out this month. I can make a cocktail party conversation go from hot to cold in a matter of seconds when I say I’ve been working on a book, then tell someone it is about gynecology.

On the personal front, my brilliant, handsome husband Zan is my formidable teammate for life, and I have two adult stepchildren. Being a mother was not a path I wanted to go down, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who loves being an aunt as much as I do. My sister, her two daughters (aka the beloved nieces), and my mom are my favorite girls in the whole wide world, and we see each other often despite the fact that they all live in Beaufort, South Carolina (a lovely place to visit!). I come from a close, extended family and love that I get together regularly, not only with my immediate family, but also with my grandmother (she’s 93 and more spunky than folks half her age—I luckily inherited some of her determination and strong spirit along with her name), aunts, uncles, and cousins. One of my favorite things is to connect people so I’m always introducing people or telling someone who can fill a need they have. I’m a huge fan of music so you’ll regularly find me singing by myself (I know the lyrics to countless songs but can’t carry a tune—so ironic) or in a crowd at a concert.

Now that you know a little about me, let’s talk about what I’m doing here on the blog.

As Tina said, fashion used to be as much frustration as it was fun for me. I’m short and curvy, which means finding clothes that fit isn’t easy. I have had a flair for fashion since I was a little girl, but what I wear has improved significantly since I met Tina in 2010. I had no idea what a life-altering experience it would be to work with her to build my best wardrobe. It has boosted my confidence not only in my attire, but also overall, as well as making that dreaded feeling of not having the right thing to wear a rarity.

dressing up

40-ish years later, and dresses and jewelry are still my favorite fashion items. Doesn’t my sister look fabulous in that fur? So much foreshadowing in this picture of two girls who are now the best of friends and still love any excuse to get dressed up.

jewelry

I caught the jewelry bug early - be watching for more posts on jewelry-buying and wearing, for every budget.

I envy women who can walk into a store and be sure to find something that will fit them off the rack. However, shopping has gotten easier since I’ve learned some tricks of the style trade. And today, I’m going to share two of my best style tips that are valuable for all women, and especially those of us who are members of the hard-to-fit club.

Style Tips When Nothing Fits

1. Buy great items in multiple colors.

When I find an article of clothing that I really like, I always consider buying it in more than one color. I knew I had this habit but will confess that while looking through my closet recently, even I was surprised by how many items I have in multiple colors. One example is this great top that Tina found for me a few years ago.

Fit tips: Buy multiples if it fits well!

Yes, you are seeing double. And in some cases I even have triple or quadruple of the same item, in different colors.

Ivory is one of the most popular colors in my closet, and not the easiest to find, so I always keep my eyes peeled when shopping. (Warning: you may discover, like I did, that ivories and browns are more flattering for you than stark white and black. In the coming months, I'll be showing you how to update your wardrobe with the most flattering tones and shapes that are right for you.) I liked this top so much that I also got it in a fun shade of coral. I’ve worn these tops in every season, so have really gotten my money’s worth out of them. Cost per wear, lovelies!

What To Wear When Nothing Fits

Coral top with one of my wardrobe staples: white jeans. Style Vault Insiders, you can shop my favorite pair of white jeans inside the July Style Vault (login). And yes, they are petite! But they also come in regular and size 16 and over. For more info click here.

2. Find someone who does excellent alterations.

A great alterations person is a wardrobe essential when you’re hard to fit (Nashville readers, my favorite place for alterations here is Stitch-It & Co.). Alterations will make your clothes look better on you, and learning about the magic that can be done with alterations will help you shop better. Here are a couple of examples.

Alterations for Petites

Here's a dress Tina and I found, but it needs altering to fit correctly. Stay tuned for the before and after shots coming this fall!

My Blue Dress: I was completely smitten with the style and fabric of this dress, but the fit of the top half was all wrong. Years ago, I would have put it back on the rack thinking it was too complicated and expensive to redo the shoulders.

Altering a dress

After alterations. This dress combines my favorite color with a fun animal print.

Now having seen lots of alterations, I knew the fix was a simple one. The top half of the dress was removed at the waist seam, a couple of inches were cut off the bottom of the removed top half, then the dress was reattached. This fixed two problems at one time: the waist now hits me at the right spot, and the length is correct (a bit shorter).

Alterations: If you are petite, raise the waistline

My dress is on the left, and the same style dress in a different fabric is on the right. See how moving up the lower half raises the waistline and hem? This is a great fit tip if you are petite and fall in love with a dress that doesn't come in petites.

Dresses for Petites

This dress from J McLaughlin is sold out online, but Style Vault Insiders, we have landed another great deal for you coming soon, from this great shop, and it will fit anyone, even if you are petite or curvy.

Crochet Skirt: The older I get, the more I like A-line skirts and dresses. They accentuate my smallish waist and skim over my curvy hips. Note to self: find styles that work with your body type. As a bonus, A-line items don’t require slimming undergarments (aka Spanx) that we (surely I’m not alone here, friends?!?) would prefer to wear as infrequently as possible. However, as someone who is height-challenged, I often find that A-line pieces have too much fullness for my frame. This can be fixed easily by taking up fabric along the side seams.

Alterations if you're petite

I'm 5'2", and this is too much skirt for my height. See how much better it looks once some of the fullness is eliminated? (We just have it pinned here.)

Hemming a skirt if you're petite

You can also see how hemming the skirt so the length is right makes it more flattering.

Being hard-to-fit is challenging for sure, but there are some ways to make it less daunting. I can't wait to share more with you in the upcoming weeks and months about what this hard-to-fit girl has learned in countless fitting rooms across the country (I travel a lot and look forward to sharing lots of packing tips with you) and inside my very own closet. Friends, I have solutions for you! Imagine yourself wearing dresses again or those pretty blouses you've always wanted to wear but could never get to fit right. There’s a wonderful world of beautiful styles that will fit you, and I’m the lucky contributor to this blog who gets to help you find them. So you don't miss any posts, you can subscribe here.

Francie

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Photos by Krissy Leigh Creative
https://www.flickr.com/photos/krissyleighphotography/

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